Why set a romance novel in Cambria? Maybe the better question to ask would be, what better place?
Linda Seed couldn’t find one when writing her debut novel, “Moonstone Beach,” the first in her projected four-volume “Main Street Merchants” series.
“Above anything else, it was the idyllic natural beauty of the area that inspired me to use (Cambria) as the setting for the Main Street Merchants series,” Seed said. “It’s such a peaceful, lovely place that it seemed to me like the perfect backdrop for romance.”
Seed, 47, is a former journalist who lives in Riverside County but has been visiting Cambria on a regular basis for some time. Her 15-year career with news and business publications included stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Ventura County Star.
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“I first came to Cambria about 20 years ago,” she recalled. “I was working at a newspaper down in Ventura, and my hours were crazy, so I took a three-day weekend and stayed at the Burton Inn.
“I had the best time. I slept late, read books, ate at Robin’s, wandered through all of the shops. And of course, I took a walk on Moonstone Beach. It was exactly what I was looking for. It felt so renewing. I’ve been coming back ever since.”
Seed’s book focuses on Kate Bennet, the owner of a small bookstore in Cambria that, according to the synopsis on Amazon.com, “smells like mildew, furniture wax, and old pages, the kind where you’ll find a cat napping atop the used biographies.”
I first came to Cambria about 20 years ago. ... It was exactly what I was looking for. It felt so renewing. I’ve been coming back ever since.
Linda Seed, author of “Moonstone Beach”
Two years after her divorce, her friends hook her up with a hot-tempered local chef named Jackson Graham. Other characters include her manipulative father and her stepmother (a Mary Kay rep); her friends Gen, Lacy and Rose; and some fashion-challenged tourists, along with animal appearances by a yapping Pomeranian and a ring-tailed lemur.
Seed said the characters aren’t based on anyone Seed met during her time in Cambria.
“The characters have more of a connection to people in my own life, where they’re based on real people at all,” she said. “Mostly, they come from my imagination. They’re people I’d like to know, people who I wish were my friends.”
Subsequent books in the series will each focus on a different character, in each case one of Kate’s three friends: Gen, Lacy and Rose will each get her turn in the spotlight. Each book will be set in Cambria.
“I think what impressed me most (about Cambria) was the beauty, the quiet — the sense of really being away from it all,” Seed said. “I’m from Southern California, and I love it there — don’t get me wrong — but down there, even when you’re at the beach, you have the sense of being in a city. The Cambria coast still has the feel of untouched nature. I was charmed.”
Seed began writing fiction at age 16, so the move from journalism to literature was more of a return than a departure.
“I began writing in high school, and I’ve been playing with it ever since,” she said. “The whole time I was working in journalism, I was also writing fiction, though I didn’t publish anything at that time.”
She was working at the Union-Tribune in 2003 when she decided to leave journalism to be with her kids full time. She and her husband, art writer John Seed, have three children.
Although she has written other books, she described them as a learning experience and said “Moonstone Beach” is the first one she has liked enough to publish.
“There was a long period when I spent so much time thinking about my kids — school, activities and just all the demands of running a household — that I had a hard time becoming fully immersed in fiction in a way that allowed me to write compelling stories.”
When asked what appealed to her about the romance genre, Seed described it as “vast and varied,” adding that it’s difficult to make generalizations.
“The type of romance I write appeals to me because it shows the world the way I wish it could be,” she said. “It’s a fantasy world full of love and close friends, fun and beauty.
“My goal is for the reader to feel good for the length of time it takes to finish the book. If I can achieve that, then I’ve done my job.”